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Why anti-racism is all about white people The 'White Fragility' narrative is more interested in self-transformation and self-fulfilment than with real equality

People at a "Black Queer and Trans Resistance" protest in Holland. Seriously. Photo: Romy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

People at a "Black Queer and Trans Resistance" protest in Holland. Seriously. Photo: Romy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images


August 3, 2020   4 mins

Last month, following a bout of online outrage, the National Museum of African American History and Culture removed an infographic from its website. Carrying the title “Aspects and assumptions of whiteness and white culture in the United States,” the offending chart presented a list of cultural expectations which, apparently, reflect the “traditions, attitudes and ways of life” characteristic of “white people.” Among the items listed were “self-reliance,” “the nuclear family,” “respect authority,” “plan for future” and “objective, rational linear thinking”.

Critics seized on this as evidence that the anti-racism narrative that has taken hold in institutional America is permeated by a bigotry of low expectations. The chart seemed to suggest that African Americans should not be expected to adhere to the basic tenets of modern civil society and intellectual life. Moreover, the notion that prudence, personal responsibility and rationality are inherently white echoes to an uncanny degree the racist claims that have historically been used to justify the oppression of people of African descent.

We could assume, in the interests of fairness, that the problem with the NMAAHC’s chart was a lack of context. Surely the various qualities it ascribes to “white culture” should be read as though followed by a phrase like “as commonly understood in the United States today?” The problem is that the original document which inspired the chart, and which bore the copyright of corporate consultant Judith H. Katz, provides no such caveats.

If we look at Katz’s own career, however, we do find some illuminating context — not just for this particular incident, but also regarding the origins of the current anti-racism movement more broadly. During the 1970s, Katz pioneered a distinctive approach to combatting racism, one that was above all therapeutic and managerial. This approach, as the NMAAHC chart suggests, took little interest in the opinions and experiences of ethnic and racial minorities, but focused on helping white Americans understand their identity.

Katz’s most obvious descendent today is Robin DiAngelo, author of the bestselling White Fragility — a book relating the experiences and methods of DiAngelo’s lucrative career in corporate anti-racism training. Katz too developed a re-education program, “White awareness training,” which, according to her 1978 book White Awareness, “strives to help Whites understand that racism in the United States is a White problem and that being White implies being racist.”

Like DiAngelo, Katz rails against the pretense of individualism and colour blindness, which she regards as strategies for denying complicity in racism. And like DiAngelo, Katz emphasizes the need for exclusively white discussions (the “White-on-White training group”) to avoid turning minorities into teachers, which would be merely another form of exploitation.

Yet the most striking aspect of Katz’s ideas, by contrast to the puritanical DiAngelo, is her insistence that the real purpose of anti-racism training is to enable the psychological liberation and self-fulfillment of white Americans. She consistently discusses the problem of racism in the medicalizing language of sickness and trauma. It is, she says, “a form of schizophrenia,” “a pervasive form of mental illness,” a “disease,” and “a psychological disorder
 deeply embedded in White people from a very early age on both a conscious and an unconscious level.” Thus the primary benefit offered by Katz is to save white people from this pathology, by allowing them to establish a coherent identity as whites.

Her program, she repeatedly emphasizes, is not meant to produce guilt. Rather, its premise is that in order to discover “our unique identities,” we must not overlook “[o]ur sexual and racial essences.” Her training allows its subjects to “become more fully human,” to “identify themselves as White and feel good about it.” Or as Katz writes in a journal article: “We must begin to remove the intellectual shackles and psychological chains that keep us in a mental and spiritual bondage. White people have been hurt for too long.”

Reading all of this, it is difficult not to be reminded of the critic Christopher Lasch’s portrayal of 1970s America as a “culture of narcissism”. Lasch was referring to a bundle of tendencies that characterised the hangover from the radicalism of the 1960s: a catastrophising hypochondria that found in everything the signs of impending disaster or decay; a naval-gazing self-awareness which sought expression in various forms of spiritual liberation; and consequently, a therapeutic culture obsessed with self-improvement and personal renewal.

The great prophet of this culture was surely Woody Allen, whose work routinely evoked crippling neuroses, fear of death, and psychiatry as the customary tool for managing the inner tensions of the liberated bourgeois. That Allen treated all of this with layer upon layer of self-deprecating irony points to another key part of Lasch’s analysis. The narcissist of this era retained enough idealism so as to be slightly ashamed of his self-absorption — unless, of course, some way could be found to justify it as a means towards wider social improvement.

And that is what Katz’s white awareness training offered: a way to resolve the tensions between a desire for personal liberation and a social conscience, or more particularly, a new synthesis of ’70s therapeutic culture with the collectivist political currents unleashed in the ’60s.

Moreover, in Katz’s work we catch a glimpse of what the vehicle for this synthesis would be: the managerial structures of the public or private institution, where a paternalistic attitude towards students, employees and the general public could provide the ideal setting for the tenets of “white awareness.” By way of promoting her program, Katz observed in the late ’70s a general trend towards “a more educational role for the psychotherapist
 utilizing systemic training as the process by which to meet desired behavior change.” There was, she noted, a “growing demand” for such services.

Which brings us back to the NMAAHC’s controversial chart. It would be wrong to suggest that this single episode allows us to draw a straight line from the culture of narcissism in which Katz’s ideas emerged to the present anti-racism narrative. But the fact that there continues to be so much emphasis placed on the notion of “whiteness” today — the NMAAHC has an entire webpage under this heading, which prominently features Katz’s successor Robin DiAngelo — suggests that progressive politics has not entirely escaped the identity crises of the 1970s.

Today that politics might be more comfortable assigning guilt than Katz was, but it still places a disproportionate emphasis on those it calls “white” to adopt a noble burden of self-transformation, while relegating minorities to the role of a helpless other.

Of course, it is precisely this simplistic dichotomy which allows the anti-racism narrative to jump across borders and even oceans, as we have seen happening recently, into any context where there are people who can be called “white” and an institutional framework for administering reeducation. Already in 1983, Katz was able to promote her “white awareness training” in the British journal Early Child Development and Care, simply swapping her standard American intro for a discussion of English racism.

Then as now, the implication is that from the perspective of “whiteness,” the experience of African-Americans and of ethnic minorities in a host of other places is somehow interchangeable. This, I think, can justifiably be called a kind of narcissism.


Wessie du Toit writes about culture, design and ideas. His Substack is The Pathos of Things.

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Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

There is no such thing as a white identity.
A white Frenchman has nothing in common with an white Englishman, the fact you may both be white is irrelevant.
And the more this rubbish is pushed the more division that is caused, no one I know is listening to this racist cobblers any more

Andy Redman
Andy Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

So therefore there is also no such thing as a Black identity also. I’d agree. identity, in this circumstance, is far more a cultural matter than a physical matter for most, but there are many who now strongly disagree, and identity is, after all, self-selected. Politically, this looks like collectivism, with all the “if you’re not for me, you’re against me” absolutism that leads to violence.

Jack Daniels
Jack Daniels
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Redman

If you lived in Africa you would know there is no such thing as a black identity, a Botswana’s black person has less in common with a black person from the Congo than a white Botswanan

Steve Moxon
Steve Moxon
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Yes. It’s a figment of our Left (or left-addled) elites.
There is next-to-no ‘white supremacy’ in the USA and absolutely zero in the UK.
Folk identify as ‘English’ but not in any overly strong way: it’s the natural furthest extent of sense of grouping. They certainly don’t see themselves principally or in any important way as ‘white’.

Brexit and Trump are symptoms of the mass of ordinary people realising that the elites hate them.

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago

Have you not yet realised, that identity politics drives people into different camps.
Once people are driven into different camps, society will become very fractured. People will start to back “their” camp against other camps.

The pictures of people marching in quasi-military uniforms in London recently, should give everyone pause for thought.
It reminded me of those old news reels from the 1930s.

Please stop the identity politics, before modern TV bulletins come to resemble the old news reels.

Steve Moxon
Steve Moxon
3 years ago

Indeed. ‘Identity politics’ / ‘PC’ is Left hatred towards ‘the workers’ for not buying Left bull. It started with Engels’ bizarre notions about the family, which were latched onto by the Frankfurt School to try to explain why ‘the workers’ in the West weren’t bringing about ‘the revolution’. They decided they were ‘repressed’ (Freudian garbage) by ‘capitalism’, so their womenfolk would have to replace then as ‘revolutionary agents. Come the US ‘civil rights’ crescendo in 1968 the US New Left co-opted ‘blacks’ in to the fold of ‘revolutionary agents’; ditto the year afterwards with Stonewall and ‘gays’. From some time after 1970 this triumvirate of ‘victim groups’ came to be seen as together and it was dubbed ‘identity politics’. In effect, ‘the workers’ were retrospectively stereotyped as the obverse of these three victim categories, as male, ‘white’ and heterosexual, which henceforward were characteristics deemed beyond-the-pale hallmarks of ‘the oppressor’. Total BS beyond belief, of course. The greatest political fraud in all history.

David Brown
David Brown
3 years ago

“The pictures of people marching in quasi-military uniforms in London recently, should give everyone pause for thought.”
Contrary to s.1 Public Order Act 1936. Antifa and BLM are arguably in contravention of s.2 of the same Act.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Funnily enough I read Lasch’s book on American narcissism very recently. It starts off quite well but then descends into a lot of pychobabble and ends as an economic rant. Of course, the narcissism that he identified 40 years ago has now massively grown, partly due to social media.

As for this article, I am just a simple working man and I don’t understand a word of it. These di Angelos’ and Katz’ occupy a different universe to the rest of us, albeit a very lucrative one.

I do know that the Seattle School Board has decided that mathematics is racist, and that it is not going to end well. On the other hand, the BLM movement in Louisville is now levying a tithe of 1.5% of post-tax revenue across all small businesses (shops and cafes etc) on pain of having their premises smashed up. This suggests a relatively sophisticated understanding of mathematics.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

…didn’t that used to be called a “protection racket”? Mafia etc…

David Jory
David Jory
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

Yes, and do you also remember a campaign in the early 70s in the US denying the existence of the Mafia? It was said to be a racist colour against Italians.
That changed with the Godfather movies.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

Yes, it’s a protection racket, as Tim Pool pointed out in this podcast about the subject.

Dennis Lewis
Dennis Lewis
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

You claim, “the BLM movement in Louisville is now levying a tithe of 1.5% of post-tax revenue across all small businesses (shops and cafes etc) on pain of having their premises smashed up.”
Please provide evidence to support this claim. I did a Google search to corroborate your claim. Couldn’t find anything.

Sheryl Rhodes
Sheryl Rhodes
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Lewis

Here’s one article out of many reporting on the issue. I chose this one because it includes a PDF of the demand letter itself. I found the “Demand” (the activist’s word) that businesses attend ongoing “training” of anti-racism to be conducted by an instructor from an approved list, and that an approved Notice be prominently displayed in the business’ windows indicating their support of the activist’s agenda to be most chilling of all. https://www.courier-journal

Nate D.
Nate D.
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Lewis
Steve A
Steve A
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Lewis

I found this: https://eu.courier-journal….

colinkingswood4
colinkingswood4
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Lewis
John Broomfield
John Broomfield
3 years ago

Many of us still agree with the person who said “Judge us by the content of our character, not by the colour of our skin.”

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago

The left now regards that person as a racist.
Go figure.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

I always think of Haile Selassie and Martin Luther King but i expect others have said similar. I can see why the left may hold a grudge against the Emporer, Elect of God, Lion Of Judah etc etc and MLK as he was a Reverend. However I expect their main beef comes from old fashioned color prejudice. Their dash to the bottom in stirring up race hate is unlikely to work for them. It didn’t end well for Hitler, Charles Manson or Enoch Powell either.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago

Oh dear. This is just the kind of convoluted self- important pompous and pontificating gibberish that gets you a worthless sociology Master’s Degree from a Marxist Run university. Where is there any evidence of solid meaningful content?

Can we touch down on Planet Normal any time soon – real life beckons!

Chris Clark
Chris Clark
3 years ago
Reply to  David Probert

Thank you for saying this! Exactly what I thought. I expect better of Unherd.

Monica Elrod
Monica Elrod
3 years ago
Reply to  David Probert

Evidently this has touched a nerve in Wessie. And others, who are so entrenched in their identities that every other view/possibility requiring having an honest conversation with oneself is seen as an attack. That is narcissism.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
3 years ago

‘White identity’; ‘white awareness’; ‘racial essences’: now, doesn’t that sound like a mirror image of the far right? And that’s where this folly will end – by racialising a ‘white’ identity (a self-image which until now has been falling away) many will, in resentment, take very different lessons from the training. Society is fast being re-racialised.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

But this article is about American racism, American “White Identity” American “White Awareness”, American “Racial Essences” (whatever racial essences are).
What has American racism got to do with the UK? Nothing…there really is no comparison. The only similarity is skin colour.

Because we aren’t having nationwide city riots, because we aren’t defunding the police, because the police don’t kill black people in the UK, because, actually, the UK is perhaps the least racist country in Europe and possibly even the world…we have to listen to un-interesting bollox from never before heard writers that simply have an axe to grind about racism, and so so so want it to be really bad here in the UK that lefty writers publish the racist antics of the US in order to validate their lefty credentials.

I would be more impressed if the writer of the article engaged with some of the comments, or again, is this another hit and run article to fill a bit of space on a Monday morning?

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

And we “ugly” Americans are considered parochial and unworldly? What’s happening in the US is much more than about race – it is also a convenient means for the left to sow discord towards the goal of tearing down our common foundation of Western Civilization.
That disease easily crosses the oceans.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

No, we don’t have the same manifestations of this wrongly named ‘anti-racism’, yet there is the adoption of the same rhetoric, claims and talking-points in the UK as in the US, despite the differences in society.

British ideologues are also wanting revolution and the dismantling of ‘whiteness’, also known as Western Civilisation.

Sheryl Rhodes
Sheryl Rhodes
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

Believe it, or not, but the “reason” you are having to deal with this activism is because the actual goal being sought by the dedicated activists is a destructive revolution in Western countries which will theoretically lead to a communist-form Utopia. As their playbook states, “The issue is never the issue. The issue is power.” They piggyback on, and/or generate, social unrest over whatever issue suffices in the moment. They actively work against actually solving that issue. They work instead to inflame and divide so that eventually society will tear itself apart. Then they will have no organized opposition to exercising power to their own particular goals.

Geoff Cooper
Geoff Cooper
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Indeed. Guilt and shame are the most psychologically and emotionally damaging of all feelings, especially among children and youths. All this ‘white people are bad’ stuff being force fed to our kids at school and especially in higher education could eventually turn around and bite the left badly. There can be psychic self defence reaction in the young that paradoxically makes them adopt the very racist attitudes and assumptions their left liberal teachers are most afraid of.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
3 years ago
Reply to  Geoff Cooper

Couldn’t agree more.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago

Why I am no longer talking to black people about race.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Looking at some of the comments I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t really get what this piece was getting at.

Suffice is to say there is no such thing as a ‘white race’ or a ‘black race’, and the continuing propagation of this simplistic fallacy, whoever they might be and whatever their purported agenda, is essentially done to divide not unite.

Steve Moxon
Steve Moxon
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

I agree it’s done to divide: in hatred towards ‘whites’. But you can’t deny the clear morphological differences such as facial bone structure and overall physique, the different susceptibilities to disease and genetic conditions, and the well-attested attitudinal differences between Europeans, Africans and Asians don’t exist?! How do you explain that the very longstanding geographical separation between these three major racial groups somehow would not lead to evolved group differences, when in every other instance of such separation of conspecifics it does?! The mind boggles at such willful ignorance.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Moxon

At the risk of further exhibiting my ‘wilful ignorance’, no one can deny that there will always be genetic factors influencing relatively rare single gene disorders like sickle cell and Tay Sachs, likewise cystic fibrosis amongst ‘Northern Europeans’, for example, but to attribute them to what is essentially a catch all, often fallacious, socially divisive, simplistic construct called ‘race’ unnecessarily brings with it a whole lot of other, far bigger unhelpful issues.

There are really no simple, broadbrush ‘Asian’ or ‘African’ characteristics, for example, any more than there are ‘Caucasian’ ones.

African DNA alone is far more diverse than the rest of the world’s combined, but if it suits you to talk in terms of a ‘black race’ then who am I to stop your self proclaimed learned self?

Terry M
Terry M
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

OK. Replace ‘race’ with ‘genetically similar people.’ Now, do you get it?

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Moxon

I agree. There are obvious differences between various racial groups, which have come about by adaptation to the environment and long geographical separation between groups, and breeding within the groups.
That doesn’t mean we should be treating or judging people differently because of their skin colour or ethnicity.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

No you’re not the only one.
When reading these articles I try to parse the relevant point before my eyes glaze over.
Luckily in this piece all you needed to know appeared early on.

“DiAngelo’s lucrative career in corporate anti-racism training. Katz too developed a re-education program, “White awareness training,”

As usual, it’s about the money.
Invent and then identify a ‘problem’.
Create and sell a ‘solution’ – almost always to image-conscious corps and government entities.
Write and sell books about it.

whodaman66
whodaman66
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

This is keeping a lot of people in work these days. Lets add a little economics into the mix and the future of academia from here does not look good in the short term.

Simon Baggley
Simon Baggley
3 years ago
Reply to  whodaman66

Owen Jones for one – check out his appalling piece reacting to the Guardian wrong rapper photo

Dennis Lewis
Dennis Lewis
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Baggley

Owen Jones is a certifiable moron.

Tim Knight
Tim Knight
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Lewis

Me too actually. I just can’t find my certificate.

Dorothy Slater
Dorothy Slater
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Thank God, i am not the only one who didn’t understand one word of this essay and I read it twice. There is a wonderful Joe Rogan episode with John Lindsay and the professor from Portland State University who got their made up essays on the Rape Culture of Dogs published and awarded a prize in one of the scientifc journals.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Dorothy Slater

I admire your perseverance!

Sometimes one wonders if one had one too many the night before, one is just having an off day or, perish the thought, one is just being a tad thick.

It wasn’t just me, but massively reassuring when someone else is brave enough to stand up and say WTF!?!

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago

No one’s put it more pithily than the great truth-teller Rene Girard: ‘Not only is the revolt against ethnocentrism an invention of the West, it cannot be found outside the West’. It’s become a mark of ‘eltie’ membership for Europeans to be ‘anti-racist’, that’s to say anti-white.

Another man of truth VS Naipaul referred to middle class whites who take up Third World causes as “people who in the end do no more than celebrate their own security.”He was writing in the ’70s about the daughter of a Conservative MP who took up with a black power faction and ended up in a grave in Trinidad: ‘Michael X and the Black Power Killings in Trinidad’.

In effect ‘anti-racism’ collectivises Europeans against their group interest while individualising others to absolve them of collective responsibility. Instead of feeling superior to other races ‘anti-racism’ licenses ‘elite’ whites to look down on other members of their own. To that extent working-class whites are akin to those once referred to as “natives”

In a reversal of the old order the political value of lower class whites is expendable, having been demographically displaced by an imported ‘proletariat’: Marxist class antagonisms transferred to race and culture: ‘Racism’ displacing ‘Capitalism’ as animating ‘scapegoat’ principle legitimising ‘struggle’ i.e. political violence.

Cultural Marxism / multiculturalsim, mass marketed as Diversity / ‘anti-racism’.. Introduces spectacular operational anomalies where law enforcers genuflect towards criminals to whom they’re aligned politically in virtue of their racial appearance whom they’ll apprehend later via CCTV identification. Similarly they provided personal security for Abu Hamza every Friday outside Finsbury Park mosque before he was eventually nicked for inciting violence.

No better illustration of the reversal than Remain being now a left-wing cause when in the first referendum ‘Out’ was an article of faith for ‘socialists’ whose raison d’etre was protecting British workers against the depredations of capital and an influx of cheap labour. Whereas ‘left’ today is ‘Refugees Welcome’.

Paul Blakemore
Paul Blakemore
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

An excellent post. In relation to the point you make in para 4: I remember an essay I read in the 80s in a book called Racial Oppression in America which was looking at the shifting immigrant communities in US cities functioning as ‘internal colonies’; as you say the UK urban proletariat is being/has been replaced in a similar way.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Blakemore

I too agree and in particular, with your own observations regarding internal colonisation.
I have lived abroad in relatively safe countries and often heard other Brit’s describing where they live and that they would not want to live too close to other Brit’s.
In contrast is it laziness or fear of us or what, that makes emigrants white or black, to Britain, immediately seek the culture and people’s that they have often fled in penury and fear?

Go Away Please
Go Away Please
3 years ago

Crumbs! That took me into a weird world which I almost gave up on until you mentioned Lasch’s summing up of the 60s and 70s and gave Woody Allen as an example. It allowed me to make some headway into what Katz and DiAngelo are prattling on about. I conclude that they are both seriously unwell but should, at all costs, avoid psychotherapy.

rod tobin
rod tobin
3 years ago

up for discussion. on a psychological level has anyone checked out the number of BLM protesters that come from a stable home with both parents. their anger is really against their fathers who are not there to help and understand them, so they rail against the welfare system that helped to provide for them. discuss.

Terry M
Terry M
3 years ago
Reply to  rod tobin

Bingo!! In the US 47% of black children are raised by a single Mom. For hispanics it’s 24%, whites 12%, and Asians 7% (all groups have about 4% by a single dad) It must be extraordinarily difficult to raise kids alone, particularly if you don’t have a high-paying job and are just scraping by. Save the family and save the world.

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry M

I thought the figure for so glad motherhood among black Americans was much higher, i.e. around 70%.

Caitlin McDonald
Caitlin McDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

That’s what I understand

Iain Hunter
Iain Hunter
3 years ago

This is nothing more than another tactic in the race and culture war. Its aim is the continued undermining and demoralising of we European peoples wherever we happen to live on the planet, even in our own ancestral homelands. It leads to the ultimate destruction of white nations. We have been too successful you see.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Iain Hunter

Yes, I too have reached the conclusion that we are ‘too successful’ and have come too far in terms of equal rights and tolerance etc. And that because various other continents, regions and cultures are unable to provide this success for themselves, our countries must be destroyed.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I reckon with a fair bit of practice and abstention from modern consumerism we can turn the clock back. We need to be as successful as the ANZAC troops were in dealing with the defeated populations they overran from Surafend through Japanese occupied Indonesia to the Rhine valley. Tolerance only works if its a two way agreement. We need to re-take the left’s doctrine of “repressive tolerance” and deploy it before its too late. Look at the racism of the white lefties in Ami Horowitz interviews on white campuses. If that doesn’t merit repression i don’t know what does!

Diana Durham
Diana Durham
3 years ago

The more I read the ideological prose and try to wrap my brain around the arguments about race and identity coming from the Left, the more it reminds me of a 21st century version of the convoluted doctrinal arguments of medieval theologians. I am not a scholar of these, but here and there have dipped into their literature, both that of the Inquisition (who of course interrogated ‘heretics’) and the Puritans who settled in New England (and practised their own kind of inquisition), and I always got that impression of minds locked into too small a place, where common sense has long fled and only an extreme, or even bitter logic remains, and has deteriorated to the point where it expresses sheer madness.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Nothing to worry about. According to the ‘Ancients’, Narcissus kills himself, and all ends happily.

William Cameron
William Cameron
3 years ago

Before anyone suggests Europeans are racist look first to the Middle East, Russia and Parts of Asia. They really are racist.

gary.mcghee
gary.mcghee
3 years ago

I did Katz’s White Awareness training course in the 80’s. It focused primarily on the white slave trade and promoted the idea that whites were predisposed to be enslavers of black people’s and that we needed to atone for that. No mention or context was made regarding the other slave trades perpetrated and enforced by non-whites. This course was basically a factory for engendering guilt in white people, that had nowhere to go but be internalised. We see this writ large in the guilt-ridden narratives of white Leftie/Liberals today. It doesn’t surprise me therefore that she has since tried to back-peddle on this and revise the terminology and ethos of this ‘training’.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago

I read somewhere the other day that blacks are killing and violently raping loads and loads of whites in South Africa. Anyone up for a march on Downing Street the next sunny bank holiday yeah?

rumianaberger12
rumianaberger12
3 years ago

Why go so far? Try Rotheram (South Yorkshire).
Better to have your daughters raped than risk being denounced as a bigot.

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago

Murders of white farmers in SA should be regarded as a crime against humanity, with its viciousness and levels of cruelty, but it’s being widely ignored, because it doesn’t fit in with the rainbow nation narrative.

Scott Allan
Scott Allan
3 years ago

Katz and all that followed in Academia were without a talent that was of use to anyone, and they have spent their life inventing bullshit they can trade on. If we are to defund anything we start with the “Experts” of academia and follow with the echo of their rubbish at the BBC.

Jordan Flower
Jordan Flower
3 years ago

The poor girl in the article’s featured image is holding up a placard promoting racial colorblindness, which she obviously doesn’t realize is anti-anti-racist.

rumianaberger12
rumianaberger12
3 years ago
Reply to  Jordan Flower

The logic is flawed, too. Are we the same as dogs, guinea-pigs, etc.?
After all, we bleed the same colour.
Another example: SJWs and NeoNazis bleed the same colour…

karenallynkeil
karenallynkeil
3 years ago

I am listening to White Fragility and reading Mein Kampf One of the things I find fascinating is that both authors make observations that are true. Some of the claims are simple common sense. Some are myopically attributed to one group of people or another. What she says of the whites, and Hitler says of the Jews is true of all people or would be if the people were in the position to make it so.
I don’t know what Katz says, but DiAngelo claims that none of us can be perfectly objective, so we should reject objectivism, sort of. She wrote of a teacher who called a Black student “girl.” The student was offended, so the fault belongs to the teacher (I agree.) However, if a person of progressive ideology says something that offends me (e.g., the F-Word) and I voice my offense, I’m told that the term has no meaning, and the fault is mine for taking it to mean what I did and being offended thereby. So which is it? It would seem, if we listen to Ms. DeAngelo and those like her, that we are offensive in everything we do, but may not take offense at anything (unless it is approved by them.) We must validate nonwhite experience, but white experience is invalid just because a white has experienced it.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago

Anything that seeks to characterise or classify people based solely on the colour of their skin is racist. All the talk of white this and white that is not only inaccurate, in that it is perfectly possible to find lots of white people who are not as described and equally possible to find lots of non whites who have the characteristics being attributed to whites often even more so, it is racist.

The simple fact of the matter is there are over 7 Billion individuals on this planet all of whom have their own special mix of strengths, weaknesses, desires and goals. There is plenty of racism amongst all ethnic groups against all other ethnic groups – that is what underlies countless wars and disputes all over the globe. However, just as a rugby team made up of 15 prop forwards is not going to win against a balanced team, embracing diversity and forgetting the nonsense about what colour skin individual team members have is proven to produce better results than teams of a single ethnicity. We are a multicultural country so let’s use that to our advantage, rather than allowing this utter nonsense to divide us and weaken us.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago

I suppose it would be nice if these people embraced some part of conservatism. If they were to say “I will give reparations to country X, but I will do it in the form of investment in their industries, because capitalism genuinely enriches people. Oh, and I won’t gripe about religion or the patriarchy while I’m doing it”, then they would be doing something to help as well as proclaiming their virtue. Investing in non-European industries would drive up wages, which means our own economy (including the working classes, hint hint) becomes more competitive again.

I’ve wanted to apologise for stuff in the past sometimes. Vain? Probably. Yet the endless declinism of the chattering classes and war on our native culture drove me round the bend. Unlimited immigration, atheist superstars ripping into the C of E, the C of E leadership shutting churches whether people wanted them to or not. All of British history spat upon regardless of whether it was of its time. Why does it always have to be the whole lefty package? Why does the entirety of conservatism have to be ripped to pieces? Not doing good to just spite conservatives sometimes seem to be the true aim of the left, which really is narcissism.

Everyone’s vain sometime in their life (just look at Curzon). It’s up to you whether you use your vanity for good or grandstanding. The choice is yours.

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
3 years ago

People (like me) are fleeing the left. Mass exodus.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Mitchell

Welcome to the fold.

J Moore
J Moore
3 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Mitchell

Aye, me too lad, and I can sense myself becoming increasing radicalized, but not in the manner BLM and cronies might intend (or perhaps that’s their cunning ploy!).

rumianaberger12
rumianaberger12
3 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Mitchell

#MeToo 🙂

Douglas McCabe
Douglas McCabe
3 years ago

Why, oh why, would white people pay reparations to (presumably) African countries, when just about every African who was shipped across the Atlantic had first been first enslaved by an AFRICAN chief or monarch, then marched in chains by other Africans to the Atlantic coast to be sold for profit to white traders who dealt in the transportation of these unfortunates to the slave markets of the Americas?

The Atlantic slave trade was a three-legged trade, but it would never have been possible unless the Africans who profited from it, had encouraged and facilitated it in the first place, just as they had encouraged and facilitated the transportation of about 30 million Africans in the Muslim slave trade for at least six hundred years BEFORE Europeans ever set foot in sub-Saharan Africa.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago
Reply to  Douglas McCabe

I’m just thinking about the fact that the left will always be with us. Anti-imperialism will always be with us. Guilty people will always be with us. In a free country, you cannot muzzle them or stop them of acting of their own free will.

They can either find a way to improve the competitiveness of British industries, or they can teach rubbish in schools and make life worse for everyone. Maybe they can try and invest in women’s education, which would reduce the world population over time, and therefore REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF IMMIGRATION OUR PEOPLE HAVE TO FACE.

My point is that no matter what people on here may think, the left will do something else. Better that they do good for the wrong reasons, than evil for the wrong reasons.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

In an important aspect, it is simply not worthwhile to take the BLM and other protesters seriously; because they are not interested in issues, whether racism or slavery or anything else. Proof of that assertion is that whenever ANYONE tries to engage them in rational dialogue, they simply shout them down and walk away. This happens now even inside the US Congress where Attorney General Barr was not allowed to answer questions Democratic Party Senators put to him.

Practically the whole of the present riotous disorder in the USA and its stepchild crowds of aggrieved demonstrators here, is a push for power.

A lot of people want to bully the rest of society into utter humiliation and compliance with them.

Those people are: [1] the Establishment, the awful ‘meritocratic’ ruling caste of the present time in the Occidental world, which has had its first big slap, its first essential rebuff in 60 years, with such events as the Leave victory in the UK 2016 Referendum and the election of Donald Trump in America. Both those electoral results clearly indicated terminal dissatisfaction by very many US and UK citizens with the quality of governance (abominable) which the ruling caste has provided these past 25-34 years. – Neoliberalism, globalizing, mass immigration and political correctness enforcing.

There is a quite simple calculus here. The Establishment uses its brainwashed indoctrinated shock troops – privileged young whites and also many young black people – in a blackmail chokehold. ‘If you do not stop your populist behaviour, we shall keep the country in a seething mess of anarchy.’
Criminal gangs offer to break up shops in the same way when running a protection racket.

[2] The said young people, white and black, who, having been brought up in a society which has abandoned religion, the family (think of the vast number of broken homes), faithful marriage, and discipline – indeed the very concept of accountability – are now inwardly chaotic and screaming because, without those lodestars to steer by, a human life becomes entirely contingent, meaningless, unfocusable.
The present palaver gives them a chance to act out their inner tantrum.

Solutions: [A] Everyone becomes a devout Christian in the same degree that the Apostles did.

[B] Serious poverty throughout such countries as ours. That would bring people down to Earth with a bump and remind them of essentials which matter practically; e.g. finding food to eat, clothing and shelter, striving to become genuinely employable. Fixation on bullying others about transgender bathrooms and their skin colour would become very much back-burner concerns.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

I agree, the West and USA are suffering from a lack of suffering. Throughout human history the vast majority of people have had to struggle to live and eat and had to accept that many of them would die young and/ or of highly unpleasant causes. There is illness and poverty today but nothing like as bad as even in the fairly recent past.
It seems humans need disease and disaster to thrive.

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

“Serious poverty throughout such countries as ours. That would bring people down to Earth with a bump and remind them of essentials which matter practically; e.g. finding food to eat, clothing and shelter, striving to become genuinely employable.”

Well this IS actually the plan you know.

Look up what is envisaged for a “Net Zero” UK. Or at Danish MP, Ida Auken’s, WEF prediction for 2030: “You will own nothing. And you’ll be happy.”

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

All very interesting..are we in the US or the UK?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

We are in La-La Land.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Indeed, but why can’t we have an essay on our La-La-Land, and not the US La-La-Land

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

Maybe you should read the article again. One of the main points is that a lot of the BLM guff is focused on ‘whiteness’ as a psychological illness, which is an idea that can then be transported to any part of the world that has a ‘white’ majority, whether or not its situation bears any relation to the US or whether there is any real race problem at all.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

White Guilt Matters

Helen Wood
Helen Wood
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

Yes and its a nice new terrain for academics
Its being applied to photography MA courses ..for example..the notion of the white racist colonial gaze when seeing or making an image.I was shocked that one lecturers book on Contemporary Photography and Racialisation included statements like
Whiteness =death
Art=life
In a sense art is the only hope white people have.

Not sure the (white) author is bothered about therapy
here…more like careerism on the back of the new woke weltanschaung.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

“… an idea that can then be transported to any part of the world…”

And how might that happen, do you think?
Does it do it all by itself?
Or is it perhaps assisted….by a Dutch journalist, writing about the racial problems of one country and transposing that problem in an attempt to fit it to another country, irrespective of whether the problem exists in that country?

Maybe you should re-read the article?

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

Because cultural norms are being exported from the US to the UK. If we understand what’s happening in the US we can nip it in the bud when it takes place in other countries.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

US I think, I’m in Lancashire but they moved it whilst I was asleep last night.

rumianaberger12
rumianaberger12
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

or in AUS (a dislectic USA).
The wokeness cancer only infests the anglosphere, for some reason.

Peter KE
Peter KE
3 years ago

Drivel, your references are just a bunch of woke half literates prizing a living out of pathetic hr departments of governments and corporations. Blm has no validity in the UK and we should be proud of our history including empire. Democracy is with us because of our forefathers.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Find Ami Horowitz interviews on white campuses, its on youtube. This explains why Ms Katz and the NMAAHC hold these weird views that character somehow derives from the skin color. They are racists. Some are patrician racists ie the ones in Mr Horowitz’ vids saying “they ( black people) aren’t very good at tech and don’t carry ID”. Like our grandparents age group saying black people are good at sport and have a natural sense of rhythm. Others are eugenicists like the NMAAHC example above – white people plan ahead = smart, black people don’t = thick. There are the “blood and soil” racists, EG much of the british left, from Gordon Brown’s “British jobs for British people” to Corbyn’s “they don’t understand British humor”. This last group are driven by a sense of loss, “they come over here, taking OUR jobs and dating OUR women”. I am sure there are other types of white racists hiding behind anti-racism, like fraudsters and paedos hiding in the clergy. Either way they are doomed to go the way of their bed-fellows Enoch Powell and the National Front, but will cause much misery and hate on their way out. The vast majority of people understand that skin color does not determine behaviour for good and bad. Also that many in the marginalised communities from the projects of Atlanta through Kashgar to the council estates of small town Britain don’t plan ahead because their future is decided by those who marginalised them: Respectively the US Democrats, the Communist Party of China and the Labour/SNP/Sinn Fein parties in the UK.

Peter Turner
Peter Turner
3 years ago

I’m glad there are quite a few comments here from those who had some difficulty in deciphering what the writer was actually saying.
I thought it might just be me, being a bit thick.

listenhere
listenhere
3 years ago

(mostly commenting about the comments to this article…)

“Ceci n’est pas une pipe”. Ok, so what? Doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Getting beyond the image to understand the concept is the only way to effectively deal with it. You don’t have to validate it, just start with trying to understand it.

Arguments about the non-existence of white perspective don’t change its existence. It’s a real concept, just like supremacy, with real power. It has existed, and likely still exists in various ways/places. That they are not universally held/leveraged or believed in does not diminish the reality to those affected. Both perspective and position in society (real or imagined) are key parts of identity. “My shack may be not better than theirs, but at least it’s on the right side of the tracks.” While the notion of a “thing” such as white identity might be objectionable, it’s more likely many “things” and not so easily dismissed beyond yourself, either as real things or concepts.

I did find this article reflected the confusing/conflicted mess that identity politics and progressive politics can come across as (not that conservative politics have any more clarity or ethical consistency), and also how self-serving and ineffective the industry around this can be, as with “implicit bias” training. “Correctness” is a anxiety-inducing box to live in. People just need to try to realize “there is no box”, get beyond the fingernail-biting/navel-gazing, and accept responsibility to act with understanding, compassion, and toward the common good, however that is viewed.

roger wilson
roger wilson
3 years ago
Reply to  listenhere

Well, ok, but the problem is that white privilege etc makes race the ultimate determinant of social relations that are much more complex / multivariate.

For example, it’s a commonplace that the relative proportion of blacks in prison is evidence of systemic racism. But the prison population as a whole is overwhelmingly male (white or black) but there’s no equivalent discussion of that variable as evidence of systemic social sexism.

Another example might be the killing of George Floyd – assumed to be a racist murder based on the ethnicity of the victim. But, in a country in which hundreds of white males are killed by the police, it is not feasible simply to assume race as the determining factor. It might be, it might not – if it is, then we’re still left with the question about what are the reasons behind the killings of whites. Merely eliminating racism as a factor is meaningless in the context of the actual deaths. In a word, in what way is a racist murder any more heinous than a non-racist murder?

This is the problem with the white fragility / supremacy / privilege notion – it’s reductive in a way that makes it impossible for whites to be anything other than oppressors (see Di Angelo) and – more importanly – POC to be anything other than victims without agency.

Vilde Chaye
Vilde Chaye
3 years ago
Reply to  listenhere

Just because you assert it exists doesn’t mean it exists either. And for the record, I assert there is no “white” perspective. It’s nonsense. Other than real supremacists (not the bullsh*t “supremacy” you were referring too), nobody thinks of “white” as a group. We’re subdivided into our ethnicities, religions, etc.

roger wilson
roger wilson
3 years ago

A recent irony of the recent rise of BLM is the behviour of the police in Bristol during the toppling of the Colston statue. Protestors screeching about police brutality and systemic racism sounded a bit limp when the police actually took the decision not to intervene and prevent the protestors chucking Colston into the harbour, because it could have created a more dangerous situation.

Jamie Gerry
Jamie Gerry
3 years ago

Identity politics is increasing division and racism, not reducing it. All the labels thrown at white people can equally well be thrown back; White fragility vs Black Fragility, White Privilege vs BAME Privilege, Karens vs Barons … and as for Eddo-Lodge’s book “Why I’m no longer talking to White people about race”, a lot of people are hoping she will live out the title.

Nigel Saunders
Nigel Saunders
3 years ago

For those who want see the original chart (it’s been taken down by the Smithsonian) it’s in the link here from Newsweek

https://d.newsweek.com/en/f

Another take on the chart from Gad Saad who’s been interviewed on UnHerd before

https://www.youtube.com/wat

Nigel Saunders
Nigel Saunders
3 years ago

For those who want see the original chart (it’s been taken down by the Smithsonian) it’s in the link here from Newsweek

https://d.newsweek.com/en/f

Another take on the chart fron Gad Saad who’s been interviewed on UnHerd before

https://www.youtube.com/wat

ian.davitt
ian.davitt
3 years ago

Has DiAngelo ever heard of ‘Tribalism’?

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago

As one of the objectives of the BLM manifesto is the abolition of the nuclear family and the organisation is clearly disrespectful of authority, it looks like the museum had it right.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Playing Devil’s Avocado here, and just to throw the cat amongst the pigeons, this is a fascinating graphic, albeit slightly dated,

https://www.washingtonpost….
orldviews/wp/2013/05/16/a-revealing-map-of-the-worlds-most-and-least-ethnically-diverse-countries/

roger wilson
roger wilson
3 years ago

Di Angelo is a racist. She treats “race” as some sort of essentialist category and infantilises “people of colour” by making their fate dependent on the whim of people who happen to be born white. The KKK would accept much of what she “teaches”.

Pedro Mendez
Pedro Mendez
3 years ago

Has anyone else here actually read “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo? I thought this essay was meant to be a critique of the ideas in that book, although it seems to be shoe-horning comparisons with a different book that is hardly relevant to the moment.

I decided to read White Fragility to see what all the fuss was about. I encourage you to do the same. This article mischaracterises it.

And as much as I agree that identity politics will lead to greater polarisation, mischaracterising arguments and dismissing calls to address specific grievances with the use of blanket terms like “identity politics” and “wokeness” only increases the polarisation.

I am sorry to say UnHerd has not lived up to its name with regard to the reaction to BLM.

roger wilson
roger wilson
3 years ago
Reply to  Pedro Mendez

I’ve read it – it’s shockingly bad. It belittles black people, negates their individual experiences and completely rejects MLK’s basic proposal that the goal is not actually to judge by skin colour. So-called white people are portrayed like drug addicts – people who need to maintain lifelong vigilance to weed out the character flaws of oppression, privilege and fragility they’ve inherited with their skin colour (Jews? Irish?).

Di Angelo’s basic premise is segregationist and will make non-racial societies more, not less, difficult to achieve.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
3 years ago

In more ways than one, cultural relativism is far more embedded in the American consciousness compared to most other countries. As a result, in America in particular, it is just but a short step from cultural relativism to ingroup favouritism which these white identitarians are perhaps trying to highlight.

The short step into ingroup favouritism is highlighted by realistic conflict theory which is explored further here
https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/eur

A deeper analysis might reveal the relationship between population size and ecological capacity whereby America is in ecological debt so a growing population is not only creating a sense of ecological scarcity but if economic capacity is not growing to keep pace with population growth, then competition and conflicts will inevitably arise, which includes perceptions that recent immigrant arrivals are not entitled to tax subsidised welfare or the fruits of redistribution.

In sum human growth, and in particular human population growth, is perhaps beginning to activate realistic conflict theory, which is exacerbated by the dynamics of cultural relativism whereby clearly defined culturally constructed groupings begin to compete over reducing resource availability. The American Progressive solution is to continue deploying cultural relativism with the view of trying to reduce conflict between different cultural groups with a particular emphasis on White groupings. However research suggests that ingroup favouritism will persist, especially under conditions of economic inequality and reducing resource availability.

The alternative is to create a much more unifying cultural framework by which hard cultural boundaries are significantly soften in order to create a more fraternistic approach towards societal identity formation and thereby reduce the likelihood of distinct and segregated cultural identities and ingroup favouritism.

In this respect, self development is required by all peoples no matter their heritage in order to dissolve distinct historical cultural boundaries whether their origin lies in race, ethnicity or nationality. In other words, it is in everyone’s interest and so it is everyone’s responsibility to create a more unifying cultural identity, which will in particular involve sacrificing those historical constructions which are anchored in hard forms of cultural relativism. As such, any particularistic cultural attributes will need to be made subservient to the cultural highest good.

Olaf Felts
Olaf Felts
3 years ago

I can hear my philosophy lecturer now – all sophistry my boy, just pure sophistry. Everything is about the promotion of the self, whatever the context. Depressing.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

The 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act, was very detrimental to the progress of Parliamentary democracy in the UK

So much effort by contemporary ‘shriekers/woke’ had gone into the abolition of slavery, that there was little energy left to address the appalling state of Parliamentary democracy. The Reform Act of 1832 increased the electorate from 400,000 to
a miserly 650,000 (UK population about 16 million) as well defining a voter as male, thus debarring all women.( Some might term that reform.)

No real real progress would be made until the 1867 Act, whist the French had universal (male) suffrage from 1848.

Seen in this light, the contribution of the British populace to the abolition of slavery was truly unprecedented, for which the world should (but isn’t) be eternally grateful.

Robert Flack
Robert Flack
3 years ago

No wonder the USA is in such a mess. Has this woman really written a best seller slagging off white people. Who bought it? Frankly I find it all rather amusing, just another hippy trend that will pass. I have more important things to do.